• Genius Hacker Kid - Developed Worm/Virus, trusts this leader dude who might be a priest (pretty sure it's something similar). Might have a sister that's being leveraged against him near the end of the story, or hes mislead into thinking that whats hes doing is for her benefit.

  • Bank Net Security Gal - Hacker who works for one of the first banks hit by the virus, catches a glimpse of the worm robbing her bank and proceeds to try and prevent it and fails. Her attempts draw the attention of bad guys and she becomes targeted by them in the real world as they try to kill her. She learns of one of her friends/acquaintances, who worked at another bank that was robbed, and is dead probably because he also saw more than he should have. She escapes her apartment being blown up and while running for her life she stops at a convenience store to buy stuff with a gift card she stole from inside a box of cereal or some such thing because she cant use her money from her real identity which is stored in an RFID chip type of device in her body somewhere.

  • Leader dude - Dies at the end either by the security chick or some other policeman type character. Lying to the young genius kid about his evil plans. I'm pretty positive he's a priest or bishop or some such thing; I distinctly remember religious overtones about the leader guy and his organization.


Specifically stated in the book is that the code is only being tested when the security chick sees it. I'm also pretty sure that the bad guys let the world know they were going to rob the bank and that there wasn't anything they could do about it.

Possible existence of hover bike/skates/board, or it might just be a regular version thereof. The security chick uses one to escape her attackers after her apartment is blown up.

Somehow, security chick tracks down the boy/virus to a remote compound. She either beats the virus, or convinces the boy to stop, or he realizes he's being used and refuses to use the virus further.

The Virus/Worm is nigh untraceable/unbeatable due to its architecture. Upon activation it attacks a bank account and steals all the money inside. Before it proceeds to the next account it makes two copies of itself that fight each other. The winner, and obviously the stronger, eats the loser and the parent and goes to the next account with all the amassed loot and an entirely different footprint than its parent which hides its tracks.

  • Its less intelligent than the types of AI suggested so far. Think smart but non contagious flu for a computer. All it knows how to do is take money from the system its infecting but it does it crazy fast and stealthily. Pretty sure the story is more (80%) character driven. Dec 8, 2016 at 0:53
  • You invested all your credits in one go!
    – Helmar
    Dec 26, 2016 at 9:31
  • I'm slightly perturbed that I can't open another bounty for this question even though my previous one wasn't claimed and it says it's eligible for a bounty since Oct 18 of 2016.. Sep 20, 2017 at 8:12
  • I'm still irritated that i cant re-bounty this question. It just says eligible for bounty since oct 18 '16 Jul 18, 2018 at 10:36
  • Darn, if you hadn't provided all that detail I was going to suggest it was Friend from the Destroyer series. Jul 18, 2018 at 15:02

4 Answers 4


The Termination Node by Lois H. Gresh and Robert Weinberg

Twenty-something Judy Carmody is a total hacker, the best in the Internet security business. But even Judy has never seen anything like this--a cyber-heist that instantly vaporizes the assets of a major bank. Penetrating all state-of-the-art defenses in the dead of night, someone is using a mysterious new code to empty accounts, leaving no trail.

The masterminds have thought of everything--including the elimination of every hacker who might be able to stop them. As Judy desperately hurries to crack the deadly code, she uncovers secrets that reach the highest levels of power--secrets that jeopardize the security and privacy of every citizen . .

  • More details in a review. This does sound like the right answer.
    – DavidW
    Dec 31, 2018 at 19:28
  • Thank you so much.. And the fact that you answered it on the new year makes me. ven more happy.. You made my favorite holiday even better.. Jan 1, 2019 at 20:31

Such AI stories are pretty common. E.g. witness the recent success of the 2012 novel The AI Apocalypse which other than the date sounds very similar to what you are describing.

Leon Tsarev is a high school student set on getting into a great college program, until his uncle, a member of the Russian mob, coerces him into developing a new computer virus for the mob's botnet - the slave army of computers they used to commit digital crimes.

But given you indicated you read this in the 90s, it sounds like it could possibly be the 1977 novel The Adolescence of P-1 by Joseph Ryan. I have put some points that seem to match below in case any of them ring a bell.

It came out a bit earlier than the 1990s. But, if you did happen to read it, it may also be that you are remembering P-1 along with other more recent AI books like the AI apocalypse and mixing the storylines.

Again, it is a pretty common trope so if this is not it you might also try these sites to see if they have the book you are seeking:

List 1

Wiki List

Good luck.


that this young genius kid (15-16?) developed

Partial Check. It features a hacker- The story starts in 1974 with the protagonist, Gregory Burgess, enrolled at the University of Waterloo in Canada. At the time, Greg is aimless, taking various liberal arts courses and doing just well enough not to get kicked out of school. Everything changes one day when his friends introduce him to the IBM System/360 mainframe and he becomes "hooked", changing his major to computer science.

The books main plot line has to do with a self replicating virus

Check. an artificial intelligence named P-1. After manually cracking the university's 360, he sets aside a portion of memory to experiment in, calling it "P-1", suitably cryptic so operators would not notice it. He then uses this area of memory as an experimental scratchpad to develop a program known as The System. The System follows any telecommunications links it can find to other computers, attempting to compromise them in the same way, and remembering failed attempts to tune future attacks.

and is being used by the leader (who he trusts for some reason) of a nefarious organization to rob banks.. Virus goes in, steals money, replicates itself twice then the 2 copies fight/eat each other and the original and whichever one wins goes on to next bank account with the previous money (so it supposedly leave no traces as this all happens really really fast) rinse/repeat ..

Partial Check: P-1's growth and education is chronicled. P-1 learns, adapts, and discovers telephone switching systems. These systems allow P-1 to grow larger and understand its vulnerabilities (power failures and humans). If successful, The System sets up another P-1 on that computer, and injects itself and everything it has learned so far into it.

also the other main character is a female young adult (20-30?) that is an anti cyber attack specialist or something or other..

Check. During this time, he also meets his on-again-off-again girlfriend, Linda, a minor recurring character. Also later in the story, Greg and Linda, now married to each other, set up a company to develop Crysto.

  • Thanks for the response but unfortunately while it is a great book The Adolescence of P-1 is not the book Ive been looking for. And Ive seen both of those lists and none of the books listed are it either. Oct 17, 2016 at 23:18
  • From the title of the question, I immediately guessed it would be The Adolescence of P-1 as well. Too bad.
    – Buzz
    Dec 3, 2016 at 20:34

One possibility is ME: A Novel of Self-Discovery, by Thomas T Thomas

As described on the author's web site


"Part computer virus, part experiment in artificial intelligence, ME—short for “Multiple Entity”—is the first self-replicating operating system with kernels for human-style memory, inspiration, and decision making. Launched by the cybernetics experts at Pinocchio, Inc., ME travels the computer networks of the world, stealing a secret file here, finessing a poker hand there. And all the time he tries to understand his human creators and the purpose for which he was built. When a trip to Canada lands ME on the other side of a broken wire, he has to go hardware: uploading into an automaton still in its crate, assembling himself by rote, and walking back across the border. And when the Justice Department demands Pinocchio pull the plug on him, ME has to find an exit strategy. "

It's been a while since I read it. But IIRC there was a detail that amused me that the AI had its own cross compiler to jump between machines of differing architectures, and the author did some speculative naming, trying calling one architecture to seem like a future Intel trademark. Like "Hexium CPUs", or i786, or some such.

  • Unfortunately not this book either. Dec 8, 2016 at 0:39
  • I thought of this book a little too... Not the same given the cast of characters, but a good book anyway.
    – lsd
    Jul 18, 2018 at 16:03

There are several "Destroyer" novels - detailing the adventures of Remo Williams and Master Chiun of Sinanju - which feature an AI called "FRIEND" which was designed as, essentially, a profit engine (FRIEND was introduced in #48, Profit Motive). Similar premise, though otherwise the details don't necessarily line up.

Just a thought.

  • Ah yes, FRIEND. Definitely not the book he was looking for, but I have thoroughly enjoyed The Destroyer series.
    – lsd
    Jul 18, 2018 at 16:04

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